Books Honored by the National Book Foundation

National Book Award Medals

The mission of the National Book Foundation is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America. National Book Awards are given five categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature.

The first African-American writer to win a National Book Award was Ralph Ellison for Invisible Man.

Check Out AALBC’s Coverage of the National Book Awards:  20172016201520142013


3 Books Honored by the National Book Foundation in 2003

Finalist - Fiction

The Known World
by Edward P. Jones

Publication Date:
List Price: $16.99
Format: Paperback, 432 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780061159176
Imprint: Amistad
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation
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Book Description: 
One of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, The Known World is a daring and ambitious work by Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones.The Known World tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Making certain he never circumvents the law, Townsend runs his affairs with unusual discipline. But when death takes him unexpectedly, his widow, Caldonia, can’t uphold the estate’s order, and chaos ensues. Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all its moral complexities.

Finalist - Poetry

Jelly Roll: A Blues
by Kevin Young

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $23.00
    Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
    Classification: Poetry
    ISBN13: 9780375414602
    Imprint: Knopf
    Publisher: Penguin Random House
    Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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    Book Description: 

    In this jaunty and intimate collection, Kevin Young invents a language as shimmying and comic, as low-down and high-hearted, as the music from which he draws inspiration. With titles such as “Stride Piano,” “Gutbucket,” and “Can-Can,” these poems have the sharp completeness of vocalized songs and follow a classic blues trajectory: praising and professing undying devotion (“To watch you walk / cross the room in your black / corduroys is to see / civilization start”), only to end up lamenting the loss of love (“No use driving / like rain, past / where you at”). As Young conquers the sorrow left on his doorstep, the poems broaden to embrace not just the wisdom that comes with heartbreak but the bittersweet wonder of triumphing over adversity at all.

    Sexy and tart, playfully blending an African American idiom with traditional lyric diction, Young’s voice is pure American: joyous in its individualism and singing of the self at its strongest.




    Finalist - Young People’s Literature

    Locomotion
    by Jacqueline Woodson

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $7.99
    Format: Paperback, 144 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    Target Age Group: Middle Grade
    ISBN13: 9780142415528
    Imprint: Speak
    Publisher: Penguin Random House
    Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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    Book Description: 
    Finalist for the National Book Award

    When Lonnie was seven years old, his parents died in a fire. Now he’s eleven, and he still misses them terribly. And he misses his little sister, Lili, who was put into a different foster home because "not a lot of people want boys-not foster boys that ain’t babies." But Lonnie hasn’t given up. His foster mother, Miss Edna, is growing on him. She’s already raised two sons and she seems to know what makes them tick. And his teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper.

    Told entirely through Lonnie’s poetry, we see his heartbreak over his lost family, his thoughtful perspective on the world around him, and most of all his love for Lili and his determination to one day put at least half of their family back together. Jacqueline Woodson’s poignant story of love, loss, and hope is lyrically written and enormously accessible.